Bar and restaurant coalition forms to uphold safety protocols

Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 7:45 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The Harper's Restaurant and Brew Pub outbreak isn't the only one linked to restaurants and bars in Michigan, which is why a group of them decided to form a coalition to hold the industry accountable.

It's called the Michigan Restaurant Promise and more than 150 bars and restaurants across the state have signed as of Thursday.

They are calling for all owners to sign the pledge to enforce safety protocols to help stop the spread of the coronavirus in their businesses.

Lansing Brewing Company is one business who agreed to the call on Thursday.

"I think it raises the bar. It raises awareness and it lets other people know potentially peers, competitors that there are people doing it the right way and we all have a responsibility to do it the right way," said General Manager Jeremey McKowen.

The coalition was started by a group of frustrated West Michigan bar and restaurant owners.

"Some of our frustration may have boiled over the weekend seeing some of places we saw mini outbreaks occur and just a desire to hold each other more accountable for the actions we're taking and that we're allowing our patrons to take," said Kyle VanStrien, owner of Long Road Distillers.

VanStrien says it's up to businesses to make sure they aren't just sharing best safety protocols, but also making them mandatory.

“I 100 percent believe that the places we’ve seen in the news the past couple weeks could have done more. It was incredibly irresponsible some of the actions we saw taken by not just patrons. We can’t just blame patrons for what happened. Certainly there is a responsibility on them to turn around and leave and if they see that these standards aren’t being met, but there’s a huge responsibility on us as establishments to enforce the guidelines,” said VanStrien.

The group is hoping that their efforts will help prevent the industry from having to close their doors again.

“As a way to separate the good actors from the bad actors because the bad actors can spoil the goods for everybody and in light of the Governor’s shut down of bars and night clubs yesterday, we don’t want to be next and we feel that hopefully this is a step in the right direction to prevent that action from being taken,” said Chris Andrus, owner of The Mitten Brewing Co.

Kris Spaulding, Owner of Brewery Vivant, says that following the pledge is being left up to the honor system, but names can be removed from the list.

“We don’t see this as a choice, we see it as a necessity in order to get to the other side and whenever that is,” said Spaulding.

“Also so the people who won’t follow the guidelines know that we’re probably not the right place for them,” added Spaulding.

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